Barely 90 miles (and nearly 2.5 hours) west of low-lying Santiago is another of Chile's different worlds. Even in a country that stretches from the Atacama Desert in the north to the tip of Patagonia, the Andes are spectacular.
On one of the early days of our trip, we took a group tour (we turned out to be the whole group) to Portillo, near the Argentine border, up a winding highway that leads to the home of one of the world's premier competitive ski sites.
It's also the site of the so-called Inca Lagoon, a sizable lake that's fed by glaciers and drains into the Juncalillo River. In December, which is summer there, skiiers stay home, but the lake is popular with hikers and kayakers.
The three peaks at center are called Los Tres Hermanos (Three Brothers). Not far away is Aconagua, the tallest mountain in the world outside the Himalayas.